Stamped from the Beginning

In collaboration with Roanoke Public Libraries builds, the Stamped from the Beginning book club builds around the Summer with the National Book Award event Indecent Histories, held on August 29th at the new Melrose Branch Library, featuring Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Justin Phillip Read.

Join the conversation at any time. Each session features a local leader or content expert. It’s a tough topic, but we approach it with the desire to learn and to process the information with our neighbors.



Download A Brief Timeline of Racism in the United States – notes from Stamped from the Beginning.

January 7 – Section 1: Cotton Mather
Guest: Points of Diversity’s Katie Zawacki on learnings from Changing the Narrative.

Thirty readers joined the conversation on January 7. We heard the outcomes from Katie Zawacki on the community’s 2019 Changing the Narrative project funded by the Kellogg foundation through Virginia Humanities. Watch soon for a video of Katie’s presentation.  Additional resources mentioned in the meeting:


Photo taken with Focosimg_2064.jpeg

January 14 – Section 2: Thomas Jefferson
Guest: Sculptor and Author Lawrence Reid Bechtel on Thomas Jefferson and Isaac Granger

A group of 25 people discussed the contradictions and complexity of Enlightenment thinkers including Thomas Jefferson. Guest Larry Bechtel described his interest and process in exploring the life of Isaac Granger Washington, an enslaved man on the estate of Thomas Jefferson, imagined in his novel, A Partial Sun. Additional resources mentioned in the session:



January 21
– Section 3: William Lloyd Garrison (Add the FB Event to your calendar)
Guest: Virginia Tech’s Dennis Halpin on the legacy of the Civil War

Thirty readers discussed William Lloyd Garrison and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Then Dennis Halpin presented on reconstruction and the long-lasting effects of W.E.B. DuBois’ approach to history. Here are additional resources from the session.

January 28 – Section 4: W. E. B. Du Bois (Add the Facebook Event to your calendar)
Guest: Virginia Humanities’ Justin Reid on Reconstruction and the Great Migration

Check out Virginia Humanities’ Justin Reid’s presentation.

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Additional resources mentioned in the session:


February 4 – Section 5: Angela Davis
Guest: Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb on the civil rights movement and today
Check out these related links:


February 11 – We take a break so that the group can attend the listening session of the Virginia African American History Education Commission at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture at 6 PM.

February 18 – Wrap up conversation: Bring your strategies for being an anti-racist. Submit below your questions or conversation points you’d like to discuss.


Historian Ibram X. Kendi was the youngest author to win the National Book Award for nonfiction for his book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, (Bold Type Books, 2017). The book was a Washington Post and Boston Globe Best Book of the Year, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and the NAACP Image Award Finalist for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction. The history runs from fifteenth-century Europe into the twenty-first century in five sections, each with a “tour guide” of thought of their era. Kendi is a professor of history and international relations at American University.

Paired with Kendi for the event was Justin Phillip Reed. The poet and essayist is originally from South Carolina, and now lives in St. Louis. He won the award in 2018 for his poetry collection, Indecency (Coffee House Press, 2018).

To continue the conversation, we’re holding the Stamped from the Beginning Book Club, a six-week community read of the history of racist ideas. January 7 through February 14, 2020.